Jon on Mon, 16 Jan 2006 06:10:35 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> More attacks on net neutrality

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>From the I Told You So Department, two recent attacks on the democratic
>foundations of the Internet echo last March's nettime conversation
>about the "end of the Internet."

This time the target is Internet1 rather than Internet2, but the plot is
still to impose a class system on the network via electronic
gatekeepers--ehem, "traffic shapers"--that subvert the end-to-end
principle advocated by early Internet pioneers. From law professor
Michael Geist:

'Notwithstanding its benefits, in recent months ISPs have begun to chip
away at the principle [of net neutrality].

'Internet telephony (often referred to as Voice-over-IP or VoIP)
provides a classic illustration of this trend.  As each major ISP races
to offer their own Internet telephony services, some have begun to use
their network position to unfairly disadvantage the competition.  

'For example, Canadian cable provider Shaw now offers a premium VoIP
service that promises to prioritize Internet telephony traffic for a
monthly fee.  The potential implications of such a service are obvious ?
the use of competing services will require a supplemental fee, while
Shaw will be free to waive the charge for its own service.

'Other ISPs have gone even further.  Quebec-based Videotron has
expressed great hostility toward third party Internet telephony
providers such as Skype, labeling them "parasitic" and foreshadowing the
potential for future action.  In the U.S., at least one ISP briefly
blocked competing Internet telephony traffic until the Federal
Communications Commission ordered it to cease the practice.'

Meanwhile, Hollywood has followed through on its promise to write a bill
to close the "analog hole" that enables recorders to tape and replay
videos. The Digital Transition Content Security Act sponsored by Rep.
Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) would prohibit
anyone from manufacturing, importing, or just plain giving away video
devices that don't obey Hollywood-approved DRM.

Leaving aside the blow this would cast to remix culture, Hollywood is
also proposing a freshness index that would make your video recording
obsolete practically the moment you hit "play." As Eric Bangeman notes
in Ars Technica:

'This bill is ridiculously hard on timeshifting. Section 201 (b) (1) of
the DTCSA gives you all of 90 minutes from the initial reception of a
"unit of content" to watch your recordings. Heaven forbid you get a long
phone call or an unscheduled visit from a neighbor when you're engaged
in some delayed viewing--once that 90-minute window closes you're out of
luck until the next broadcast.'

Suppose this bill is approved. How long will it take before every
video-producing device outputs copy-protected video as a matter of
course?  C'mon Jim and John--digital preservationists have enough on
their hands without your encouraging Bill Viola videos to self-destruct
90 minutes after we load 'em in our DVD decks.


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